Thursday, April 23, 2009

We are a nation in decline...?

So frequently I hear that the American education system is failing or falling behind that of other industrialized nations. In studies that rank the top 30 or 50 nations in the world, our high school student, in particular, are performing well below the level of their foreign counterparts. In a recent Thomas Friedman blog, he echoed this sentiment by citing a recent McKinsey report on the economic impact of the achievement gap. Although the report projected a bleak outlook for the nation unless immediate steps are taken, there was a brief note of optimism in the final words. Specifically, the report eluded to the unwavering ability of Americans to overcome adversity and adapt to challenges. Examples included the United States pioneering of a free public education for all citizens in the early 19th century, which led to tremendous economic growth.

My personal reaction to this--we are not a nation that is falling behind, but one that is struggling to adapt to our most recent challenge. Addressing the achievement gap in all its forms--racial, economic, etc.--is an enormous obstacle that can be overcome. Presently, several states have shown dramatic improvements with regards to this ongoing problem; however, for the nation as a whole to see persistent and measurable improvements, every state must change.

Monday, March 9, 2009

To paper or not to paper, that is the question...

Here is a link to an interesting blog post about a teacher's foray into the world of paperless classroom education. Personally, I have participated in a plethora of conversations about paperless education, but most of them have focused on paperless administration. For the most part, that is a relatively simple task to accomplish. However, going paperless in the classroom, I'm sure, can be quite daunting for some teachers. Check out the blog post as she has some great ideas for implementation. It would really require a teacher to alter the way they look at education. Particularly, a teacher would have to forgo the idea of being the purveyor of knowledge and realize that they should play the role of knowledgeable guide.

I do think there are some interesting implications related to the idea of a Digital Divide.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Presenting in the age of too much information

After spending the last weekend with the acclaimed communication expert, Dr. Steve Adubato, I found it ironic that I stumbled upon an article devoted to explaining the technique necessary for presenting to an audience engulfed in Twitter. Our experience with Dr. Adubato focused on many aspects of good communication skills, however, none were stressed more adamantly than one's ability to engage their audience. When I first read the article, I thought Dr. Adubato would balk at such a notion. Upon reflection, I realized that if managed properly and if utilized by a responsible audience, Twitter could make a presentation more engaging. If you're interested in some of the suggestions for successful implementation - Click here!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

21st Century Assessment

At WHS, a committee has existed for nearly 2 years that has sought to understand how we assess our students' success. At times, our discussions have focused on understanding structural hindrances and designing a comprehensive program of assessment that would most reflect the skill-set we hope our students would have. Other times, our discussions have strayed to more philosophical ideologies about the purpose of assessment in its many forms. Individuals have raised great ideas about student portfolios or project based assessments. Regardless of the idea or topic, however, conversations inevitably wander into a content or skill driven curriculum...purely academic or interdisciplinary...guided discovery or explicit teaching...so on and so forth...

These discussions have brought me to the epiphany (which should have been obvious in the first place) that no aspect of education can be discussed in isolation. In other words, assessment cannot be discussed without curriculum...without pedagogy...without social learning...without technology

That being said, take a look at the link to a report on 21st century assessment

Friday, February 27, 2009

Great blog - How to embed almost anything on your site

Click here - a website that give tips on how to embed RSS, video, music, pictures, and more. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The networked student and connectivism

A couple of things in this blog posting:
First, check out the link to edtechtalk. It is a podcast interview with a teacher by the name of Wendy Drexler that has truly embraced the idea of the networked student. She has completely restructured her classroom, in many ways, to utilize 21st century education tools. Listen to the conversation where she discusses how her role as a teacher has changed. Instead of acting as the purveyor of knowledge, Drexler teaches students how to seek out, collect, analyze, and maintain knowledge connections.
http://edtechtalk.com/21cl_95

Second, here is a Youtube video from common craft that actually uses Drexler's classes to explain the ideology of a networked student and classroom.


Finally, if you don't have a good understanding of what connnectivism is, check out the Wikipedia entry for it--click below.

Wikipedia: Connectivism


My great hope for connectivism lies in the belief that it is more likely to foster lifelong learning due to the social aspect of it. Students are likely to establish longterm connections that will continue to support their learning long after they leave school.